A kuia, or elderly woman, rocks a baby as children scramble around a bouncy aquarium which almost fills the small community hall. In the kitchen, almost too many helpers prepare kai to eat!
Outside, teenagers organise games for younger children, while Dads, Mums and single adults enjoy warm sunshine, following weeks of rain.
Some of these teenagers used to be kids playing at the Corstorphine Community Hub, says its Chairperson, Mama Taana.
We want to teach them that it’s really cool to give back,” she says.
“They’re loving it, looking after the little ones and respecting the older generation, making sure that our mamas and papas are doing really well.”
Two boys fight with balloon swords deftly made for them by Magic Max, otherwise known as Aaron Jones, a Rock Solid youth worker.
The smell of sausages and onions cooking on a large barbecue entices and later, the “multi kai” cooker provides chicken, chops, kumara, cabbage, pumpkin and potatoes.
People of various ages and ethnicities gathered at the Hub’s Christmas hui in Dunedin last month. However, this diversity of ages and cultures coming together isn’t a one-off event, but part of the Hub’s essence.
Hub Coordinator, Mere Jouanides, says that multiple generations form the Hub, which celebrated its fifth birthday last month.
This includes teenagers who first came to the hub as children and now help run activities.
On the outside, they look like menacing youth. But you get them dishing up the sausage sizzle…building that trust, breaking down those stereotypes.”
“Connecting everyone, the next generation with the next generation.”
Many of the presents donated for the Christmas gathering were intentionally board games which families could play together.
“It really was about our families re-connecting,” she says.
“The moral of the whole day was to bring the families together; to get off your phone for five minutes.”
Diverse community becomes family
The suburb of Corstorphine has a significant Pasifika population, as well as Asians, Europeans and former refugees from the Middle East.
“We do have quite a diverse community,” Mere says.
The Hub’s Garden Supervisor, Moana Taana, says, “We function as a group and as a family. Our saying is, ‘once you come through the door, you’re family’”.
There’s no discrimination against anybody. Like Moana said, you walk in the door and you become family”.
People arrive and are told to make themselves a cup of tea or coffee. During a normal week at the Hub, local residents pop in to talk or pick up free food, courtesy of KiwiHarvest.
Doings lots with little
The Hub is located in Corstorphine, a suburb where some struggle with everyday needs. A year ago, the Hub moved from Lockerbie St to the Corstorphine Community Centre in Middleton Rd.
“It’s been a very grounding year, just getting our feet established here and building that trust and rapport in the community,” Mere reflects.
Weekly activities such as the Monday food give-away and Thursday shared cooked lunch continue. A Tuesday fitness session has started for Hub mums at Arai Te Uru Whare Hauora gym.
During school holidays, the Hub has held workshops for children, who’ve planted seedlings in 100 planter boxes and tie-dyed t-shirts and cotton bags.
“We try do something that’s not typical to do in a community that doesn’t have lots of money.”
Some rangatahi, or youngsters, have gained employment with the planned waterfront and Dunedin Hospital developments.
Local builders have offered assistance with Hub facility improvements planned for this year. These will include hall roof repairs and fencing, so a Community Garden and playgroup can begin in this location.
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For further information:
Click here to read our first story about the Hub.
Click here for the Hub’s Facebook page.